NEW: Ben Carson: Names of some victims of childhood violence are 'fictitious'
Carson: 'I was generally a nice person'
Ben Carson said Thursday that the names of two people he has previously identified as victims of his childhood violence are “fictitious.”
“I don’t like to generally bring them in, the names I used for instance are fictitious names because I don’t want to bring people into something like this because I know what you guys do to their lives,” Carson told reporters in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
In a later interview with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, he said that the person he tried to stab during his youth was a “close relative.” Carson said he spoke with the relative earlier Thursday, who told the retired neurosurgeon they did not want to be revealed.
“I didn’t want to put their lives under the spotlight,” Carson told Kelly.
Carson had previously said the stabbing victim was a friend.
His comments follow a CNN investigation published earlier Thursday that probed his descriptions of his violent past. He has said he attacked a boy named Bob with a knife and hit another child named Jerry with a lock. Carson said Thursday that those names weren’t real.
In the chapters of Carson’s 1990 autobiography that detail the incidents involving Bob and Jerry, there’s no note or indication to alert the reader that the names were fictitious.
Carson spent much of Thursday pushing back against the CNN probe of his descriptions of his past. Earlier in the day, he said reporters shouldn’t expect to find childhood friends or acquaintances who could corroborate his anecdotes.
“Why would anybody know about, you know, private incidents like that? You know, I was generally a nice person, it’s just that I had a very bad temper,” Carson told CNN at a lunchtime book signing. “So unless you were the victim of that temper, why would you know? Just because you happened to know me? That doesn’t make any sense.”
Earlier in the day, following publication of the story, Carson had said that his temper changed when he was 14 and tried to stab an acquaintance in a fit of rage but the blade was stopped by a belt buckle. He claimed CNN only interviewed people who had known him after that point.
But when Carson was told that CNN interviewed people for its report who knew him as early as elementary school, he said the temper was private.
He also called the investigations into his past ” almost comical.”
“They are so desperate looking for a scandal it’s almost comical,” Carson said. “What they should be concentrated on is how are we going to solve the problems that we have. They can waste all of their time digging but they’re just not going to find anything.”
Carson added to Kelly Thursday night: “I would say to the people of America, do you think I’m a pathological liar like CNN does? Or do you think I’m an honest person? And I’m going to leave that up to the American people to make that decision.”
Carson, 64, has given vague and shifting accounts of the violent incidents over the years. He provided new details of his timeline on Thursday.
“One of the ones where I threw a rock and broke someone’s glasses, that occurred when I was maybe about 7 or 8. The stabbing, attempted stabbing incident occurred when I was 13 or 14, the – what’s another incident?” Carson said, asking the reporters. “Trying to hit my mother in the head with a hammer, that was around the same time as the stabbing incident.”
He also said he would not identify the individuals he has recounted lashing out at violently, but said he has no issue with them going public on their own.
“Why would you be able to find them? What makes you think you would be able to find them, unless I tell you who they are?” Carson said. “If they come forward on their own because of your story, that’s fine. But I’m not going to expose them.”
CNN’s Theodore Schleifer contributed to this report.